Digital Privacy at the Border

Technology has shrunk our world, and it’s now commonplace to cross borders just to attend a meeting or event. Our information crosses international borders even more frequently, whether it’s sent digitally, by regular mail, or by landline phone call.

The privacy issues that surround data affect us all — and can be of particularly significant concern to privacy professionals, lawyers, physicians. Anyone who must meet legislated or professional obligations to safeguard sensitive, confidential, or privileged information should understand the risks to data that have become added baggage when traveling.

Questions about protecting mobile data run the gamut:  What happens to privacy when we travel with a smart phone, tablet, or laptop? Do we have to give up device passwords? Is our camera subject to scrutiny? What can happen if we refuse? And what about meeting our obligations to safeguard personal privacy, protect lawyer/client privilege, and maintain doctor/patient confidentiality when border authorities scour our devices?

To understand some of the issues read the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s publication Digital Privacy at the U.S. Border: Protecting the Data On Your Devices and In the Cloud. Although written from the American perspective, the concepts are relevant to Canadians as well.